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My Cyber Foray: NICE National K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference 2016


If I were a worrying kind of person, which I’m not, and I was concerned about digital theft, which I am, I would have made sure to attend the NICE National K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference this week (October 6-7, 2016) in Arlington, Virginia.

And attend I did, but not as someone who is afraid of the consequences of a digital world. Rather, I attended as someone who is optimistic about the digital future.  You see, I’m a strategy consultant in workforce and economic development, and I can see – in “cyber” – a bright future for America’s workforce.

A cybersecurity job isn’t necessarily about catching spies and hackers, although it can be.  The cyber world is much more than that, and I wanted to better understand how students are getting – or can get – a cybersecurity education.   I also wanted to get a feel for how many “cyber jobs” exist right now.  The answer to my second question turned out to be “a whole lot”.  As one might intuit from keeping up with the news, there’s a lot going on in the digital universe.

And as to my task to find out more about these jobs, the conference featured thought-provoking and instructive presentations and discussions about issues such as developing cyber curricula and attracting people to cybersecurity jobs.

Similar to other well-paying careers, cybersecurity has career pathways, educational degrees and credentials, apprenticeships, and collaborative opportunities for identifying cyber education needs and training.  In today’s education and training systems, I don’t think many people, whether teachers or students, understand the depth and breadth of “cyber” and that the National Institute for Standards and Technology’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) has developed a national cybersecurity workforce framework in partnership with “demand-side” collaborators from cybersecurity businesses and associations.

The high-level categories in the NICE career and education framework include:

  • Analyze
  • Investigate
  • Operate and Collect
  • Operate and Maintain
  • Protect and Defend
  • Securely Provision
  • Support

In each category of the framework, there are second levels that describe what a person will do in that field, such as Investigate:

  • This job category is about digital forensics and investigation, which include collecting, processing, preserving, analyzing, and presenting computer-related evidence in support of network vulnerability mitigation, and/or criminal, fraud, counterintelligence or law enforcement investigations. Also, applying tactics, techniques, and procedures for a full range of investigative tool and processes.

Then within these job activities NICE has listed the knowledge, skills, abilities, certifications, links and tools that can support a student’s inquiry, as this example shows.

This framework and the discussions from academia, business, thought-leaders, and government during the conference were exciting to hear. And learning that the pillars of society are working hand-in-glove to create an American cyber-workforce that’s ready to go before the next generation graduates gives me inspiration as both a workforce developer and an economic developer. These are good jobs with family-supporting wages and benefits, and can provide economic revival for some hard-hit areas of the country.

It’s great to know that, in this case, the bits and bytes aren’t fattening food, but instead, wallet-fattening jobs.

For more information about the NICE cybersecurity education framework, visit:

By Stacey Jarrett Wagner, Principal, The JarrettWagner Group LLC

Source: iKeepSafe